Saturday, 30 July 2016

Heading west to the ranges

We woke to a chilly morning in Alice with a heavy dew. We are on the move again, heading west through the West MacDonnell Ranges for a few days. 

We heard about the spectacular gorges and mountains colours and shapes, so it went on the must see list.  And boy they didn't disappoint. 

We had a few chores to do before we left in the morning. Doing a fuel stock up was needed as the prices are quite a jump of 50cents or more as we head west. Also we needed to get a gas bottle refilled/swapped to ensure we have a reserve. This proved trickier than thought as the last swap we did through Canberra Bunnings gave us a bottle that can't be refilled as it was 4 years past it's 10 year refill limit! Not happy Jan!  Heading then to Bunnings resulted in them not having any to swap! An order wad due tomorrow but that didn't really work for us. Double doh!  So lesson learnt and we will check the dates of the bottle we get when swapping next time!  In the mean time we will just have to run off one and plan to refill at Kings canyon or the Rock if needed. So a late departure of 11am from Alice was a little later than expected. 

Leaving Alice the mountains start on your right and then slowly build up on both sides as you make your way down the valley. 

Views are just spectacular. Hard to convey in photos really. 

We stopped at a number of the gorges along the way towards Glen Helen Gorge and "Resort", which was the destination for the evening. 

Starting at Standley Chasm before making our way through Ellery Creek Big Hole and Serpentine Gorge.  A final stop at the Ocre pits saw us finish a very active day with a number of walks to explore this amazing place. 

Standley chasm - a little put off by the entry fee as its on private land but a very pretty place.  We timed our visit perfectly with the sun coming straight down lighting things up. The rocks really do seem to come alive when the sun strokes them. 

Ellery Creek Big Hole - with the coldest water we have experienced on the trip, so chilly even the boys only ventured a toe or two. 

Serpentine Gorge

Ocre pits with yellow, red and white Ocre on display. 

A view of the different colour strata at the pits. 

We arrived at our destination around 4pm, a little exhausted from the physical exercise during the day. We need to build up some fitness as the Kings Canyon Rim Walk in a few days is meant to be fairly physical!

Booked in for two nights, we had a lovely view of the gorge from our kitchen 

The resort/caravan park puts on live entertainment in the evening. A lovely solo guitarist by the name of "Slim Pickens". He was just great, with a lovely mixture of bluesy songs including a few from the "oh brother where art thou" sound track, one of our favourites. Compared to the other entertainment at Mataranka, he put in a awesome set of 2 hours without a break. Very good indeed.

The story behind the ranges is fascinating, about 1.4 billion years ago there was an massive uplift that raised the tips of the ranges to within himaylaya height of 10000m. Then over the years it has eroded and the same forces that lifted it have then twisted it sideways and folded it over. After millions of years you are left with an amazing set of structures that are pure geology porn!  The forces are simply stunning. 

From Redbank Gorge

The next morning we ticked off the remaining Orminston and Redbank gorges. Both had a bit of walk in, so we stayed at both a while to soak up the atmosphere.

At Redbank Gorge we met up with  some walkers who were doing the Larapinta trail. The trial is the full length of the range over 13 days or so (223km ish) and they were on day 12 planning their ascent of Mt Sonder the following morning to be at the peak for sunrise. Remarkably the people didn't look like they were walkers, or maybe it was the fact they had walked so far already, they looked uncomfortable walking off from the picnic table. Maybe something to do when we are young and kid free again!

We returned to camp with a stack of firewood collected from outside the park. It was due to be a chillier evening. Turns out it wasn't but the fire was a nice change. 

We woke the next day planning to go to Palm Valley, it's a bit further south but in the same sort of area, only a 200 kms or so. The neighbours next door to us at Glen Helen convinced us to go. Turns out it was possibly the best camp we had all trip.  For details you will need to get the next instalment of the Ross adventures titled Palm Paradise. 

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